By Andrew Johnson

RAVENNA – The Ravenna bowling program is having a perfect season so far.

Derek Place follows through after making a throw for Ravenna. Photo/Jason Goorman

Notice that did not say the Ravenna bowling team. That’s because there are two teams – the boys and girls. It would be great if one or the other was undefeated at this point of the season, but the really impressive fact is that they both are.

The two Bulldog squads have posted a collective 23-0 record. The perfection is not stunning for the boys, who had a lot of experience coming into the season. It’s a lot more surprising for the girls, who are young and were not expected to be this good, this soon.

“This has been beyond my expectations,” said Ravenna bowling coach Jason Nutt about the girls’ 12-0 record. “I really didn’t know what to expect coming into the season because we lost three seniors from last season. But throughout the season, we’ve improved a ton and bowled really well.”

One of the few returners to the Ravenna girls squad is senior Amaya Guzman, who leads the team with an average of 170.

“Amaya is our anchor,” Nutt said. “She’s the one who the girls look to for big shots. Her biggest growth has probably been the ability to go out and read the lanes. She’s gotten more comfortable with more types of shots and knows when she needs to move.”

While Guzman is excelling as a bowler, she’s also contributing as a leader.

Mae Mabrito gets ready to take her turn to throw during warmups. Photo/Jason Goorman

“She’s not super vocal, but she’ll pull girls to the side and tell them they’re okay,” Nutt said. “She’s very calm and doesn’t get too high or too low. She’s kind of like an assistant coach at times.”

Guzman admits that she takes the leadership role seriously.

“Honestly I like it a lot,” Guzman said about younger bowlers coming to her for advice. “These girls are like my little sisters. They sometimes doubt themselves, but I know they can do better than what they think they can.

“It’s really special to me to lead them because up until last year, all the girls were older and were helping me. Sometimes it’s easier for them to grasp and relax when advice comes from me rather than a coach.”

Joining Guzman on the girls bowling team are senior Morgan Lockhart with a 151 average, freshman Mae Mabrito (147), junior Heidi Kloostra (145), sophomore Emily Linck (138), senior Allie Spoelman (134) and sophomore Liberty Willick (130).

Meanwhile, the Ravenna boys team is living up to its advance billing with an 11-0 record heading into February.

“This is actually about what I expected,” Nutt said. “This is probably the strongest team we’ve had in recent memory, and going into the season we had high expectations.”

Those expectations came from having a seasoned squad, with four seniors, two juniors and one freshman.

Dylan Gordon winds up to make a throw for Ravenna. Photo/Jason Goorman

Senior Ethan May has been pacing the Bulldogs with a 215 average, followed by senior Derek Place (199), freshman Dylan Gordon (188), junior Andre Guzman (180), senior Adam Budny (176), senior Jake Sladick (165) and junior Marshal Kiester (149).

“I think we’re doing really well,” May said. “We’ve really just been doing our thing, and I think we have a really solid team.”

The boys team qualified for the state finals in both 2017 and 2018, but missed out last year. The Bulldogs are determined to right the ship in 2020, and maybe even finish among the top teams in Michigan.

“To get back and be able to get further would mean a lot,” May said.

It’s possible that all the winning could be contagious for the entire group of Ravenna bowlers. While the two teams are separated by gender and compete separately, they also practice together and are pretty close.

“The two teams pull for one another,” Nutt said. “We only get six lanes to practice on, and we don’t tell the kids where to go. So a lot of times, they kind of mix up and interact all the time.”

May said that having both teams undefeated is pretty special for Ravenna.

“I think it’s really cool,” he said. “We all know each other really well. To have that chemistry, even in practice, helps us bowl better, and I think it’s showing at the meets.”